Canadians are well known around the world for their politeness. This is of course a huge generalization. But I’d tend to agree, most of us do tend to say sorry more often than other nations. I’m here to demystify the fact that Canadians are blatantly and universally polite. While we do say sorry a lot, it doesn’t always reflect a polite intent. In the way the Inuit language has dozens of words for snow, we have multiple definitions and uses for the word sorry that offer us a full range of expression.
Sry (pronounced sory)
This version is interchangable with “eh”. In a similar way Argentinians use the word ¡che! It can be literally be sprinkled throughout a sentence, but most often at the end. But rather than calling attention to something as in Aregentinian Spanish, it’s meant to deflect it. I hate to break it to you, when sorry is used this way it is otherwise meaningless. It’s more of a vocal intonation that Canadians simply can’t escape.
Saaary (pronounced saaary)
Saaary is an interesting usage as it’s more of a structural word rather than an expression of feeling. Group it in the same pool as “however”, “but” or “wait for it”. Frequently it’s used as a kind of verbal backspace – as in “let’s meet tomorrow at 3:30 saaary 4:30” – said without any break.
Saughry (pronounced sau-ry)
If you’ve heard this — you’ve probably done something inappropriate or vulgar and have upset a Canadian. This is probably the most colonial/British version of the term and its use it’s use is a tad prudish and dated. It even has some silent letters to empahsize it’s stuffyness. It derives from the French-Canadian verb “sauver” then Anglicized with a silent “gh” – as a call to other in-the-know Canadians to save you from the embarrassing situation that you’re in.
Sorrry (pronounced soooooo-ryyyyyy)
This is often done in a cartoonishly deep voice, elongating the vowels. The Canadian feels they have done something pretty stupid, like misplaced the canoe paddle on a two-fer weekend after consuming too many Molsons. It could be a slight enlongation, or a longer one – you can determine the amount of sorry-ness based on the length. This is probably closest to the international English definition of what sorry means.
Sowry (pronounced sowwwrrry)
If a Canadian says this to you, you know you’re being truly insulted. Basically it means “sorry that you’re stupid.” Legends say it derives from the word “sow” as in to sow seeds. Back in the day, people who planted were considered to be pretty unrefined and uneducated because most things that get planted in Canada get killed during intense freezing winters.
Ssorry (pronounced sssorry)
This way of saying sorry is a bit more politically intentioned. It doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong – just that the Canadian is a bit sad about your particular situation. How do you spot it? The ‘s’ drags on just a beat longer. It’s often used in sentences like “ssorry your healthcare is so bad” or “ssorry your country didn’t legalize cannabis on a federal level” etc etc.
Sorry (pronounced sawrh)
The silent ‘y’ in this pronunciation indicates the speaker is feeling exceptionally sheepish about apologizing. This is often accompanied by stuttering, stumbling or flushed appearances and embarrassment about supporting two-faced politician Justin Trudeau.